I drove up to Seattle today for a quick video shoot as part of a large video project that I am working on. The location, just off 45th Street and University Way, was smack dab in the middle of my old stomping grounds in the U-District and I was not prepared for the onslaught of nostalgia that hit me as I wondered down the familiar streets. I started remembering names and faces, successes and failures (mostly failures), fears and confidence-boosters, the classes at University of Washington, and the good and bad decisions that were made in those brief, yet amazing, moments in my life 14 years ago.
I have lived all of my life in Vancouver, but I grew up in Seattle. Straight out of high school in 1997, I moved into a dorm and started the journey of pursuing a degree in computer science (which turned out to be one of the most competitive programs to get into). I was filled with so much fear. Eyes wide open. Doors locked tight. I wasn’t prepared for the academic rigor and social acuity needed to succeed at the university level. I got distracted, lost my focus and slowly, but surely, my dreams shattered.
I was lost, didn’t know what I wanted to do, let alone know who I was. I didn’t know how to work for what I wanted. Over a period of two and a half years, my journey went from the idealistic and noble pursuit of computer science, to business, to art, to eventually dropping out to play bass guitar in a rock band (living on a couch for a few months). After the band fell apart, I moved back home filled with anger, resentment and humiliation.
While the dreams of my youth were shattered in those years, they form the basis for the man that I would become. In time, I learned who I was, what I wanted to do, and how to work for what I wanted. A lot of what I do as a business owner today is reflected in my UW journey: technical, creative and artistic work on the computer for the purpose of business, as well as an occasional strum of the guitar.
As a 32 year old married man reflecting upon my 18 year old frightened and alone self, I can’t help but feel a tinge of sadness and remorse for those wasted years. I think of old friends that I lost touch with, realizing how much I miss each and every one of them: Scott, Russell, Nevhiz, Tom, Mike, Blanca, Josh, Harry, Chris, Dustin, Cody, Adrian, and a whole slew of supporting characters whose names I can’t remember. I think of funny stories, embarrassing and heart-aching moments, and everything that I did as a young man away from home for the first time. I think of all those things and wish that I could give myself some insight on how to better survive and enjoy those times.
But then I think about the life that I have now and the nostalgia of the past life melts into a sea of gratitude. I think about the new cast of characters that have made my life better, teaching me how to selflessly love: Kristina (my awesome, lovely, inspiring wife of almost seven years), Dennis, Ben, Bruce, Gayle, Dave, Dale, Cheryl, Tim, and all of the people that in their unique ways speak into my life.
Finally, I pause and say a prayer of gratitude and thanksgiving for the many lives that I have lived since those formative years in Seattle. If I did not have those years to build a life upon, what would my life be?
Only God knows.